Fine piece on The Maltese Falcon in SFGate.com by Eddie Muller , one of the first and possibly the finest example of film noir. A lot of good history on how the film came to be made, including the terrible taste of George Raft:
Raft was a bona fide star, but it was his connection to bona fide gangsters that gave him leverage with his home studio, Warner Bros. He had right of first refusal on every “tough guy” part. The previous year he’d turned down “High Sierra,” giving Humphrey Bogart his first romantic lead. The following year he’d pass on “Casablanca.” The year after that, he nixed Paramount’s “Double Indemnity.” It’s a safe bet nobody ever asked George for advice on stocks or horses.
Is it no wonder Bogey is better remembered and more admired than Raft?
John Huston‘s version of Falcon was the third Hollywood adoptation of the Hammitt classic. Like the first two, it would have flopped if anybody but Bogey had played Sam Spade.